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Top-line Intel Budget Totals $75 Billion September 16, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis, News.
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Source: ODNI

Source: ODNI

In a conference call this week with reporters, the Director for National Intelligence (DNI) Admiral Dennis Blair disclosed the FY 2009 top-line intelligence budget, at $75 billion.  The traditionally opaque intelligence budget is not subject to the same type of public scrutiny as other federal budgets. By revealing the overall intelligence budget, DNI Blair put America’s DOD intelligence expenditures into context; something that can only advance Washington’s defense policy debate.

To clarify, the majority of the intelligence budget (including that of the CIA) is funded through the DOD, although sixteen separate agencies and offices within the intelligence community collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence.  Intelligence responsibilities and budgets are grouped into two major categories: the National Intelligence Program (NIP) and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). The NIP supports national policy priorities and is managed by the Director of National Intelligence. The MIP focuses on defense missions and covers intelligence with respect to military issues and missions; the Secretary of Defense manages the MIP.

Congress previously mandated that the NIP be disclosed at the end of each fiscal year; although unclassified, an official figure for the MIP had not been previously released.  This year’s NIP won’t be made available until October, but the NIP was $43.5 billion in FY 2007 and $47.5 billion in FY 2008.  Therefore, with a $75 million top-line and a NIP that remains close to last year’s $47.5 billion, the MIP roughly amounts to $27.5 billion.

Put in context, total DOD discretionary base spending in FY 2009 (050 budget) was $513.3 billion. Given the new information, MIP spending accounted for 5 percent of total spending.  While not a huge percentage of the overall military budget, this same amount would fund nearly three navy nuclear aircraft carriers (CVN-21), ten Virginia Class (SSN 774) attack submarines, or about one third of the president’s total DOD R&D budget.  As the Federation of American Scientists’ (FAS) Steve Aftergood recently said to the Washington Independent, the “…figure is quite interesting.”

NDI Blair disclosed the top-line number because he believes the bifurcation of military and non-military intelligence is no longer relevant.  In his view, the US government faces today’s security environment with provincial reconstruction teams and diplomatic groups, units that need to be supported by an “interlocked and interweaving set of intelligence activities.”

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